Scouts BSA Merit Badges

Age Requirements for Merit Badges

Michael sent in this question:

What scout age is too young for Citizenship in the Community? I have a couple “younger scouts” who would like to begin the badge but they are only 7th graders and Second Class? Is it my call or do you have a certain criteria?

This is not an uncommon question. The Guide to Advancement should be the first source of information when you have a question about advancement procedures. From the 2013 Guide to Advancement about who can work on a merit badge

A few merit badges have certain restrictions, but otherwise any registered Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout may work on any of them at any time. 

and concerning the conversation you might have with the Scout when asked to provide a merit badge card

The discussion a Scout is to have with the unit leader is meant to be a growth-oriented and positive conversation. The unit leader should discuss any concerns related to working on the merit badge and provide appropriate counseling. It is then the Scout’s decision whether or not to proceed with the merit badge. The process is intended to inform the Scout about what he may encounter along the way, and perhaps to give him suggestions on how the work might be approached. It also has the purpose of keeping the unit leader up to date with what the members of the unit are doing.

I think this second quote from the guide to advancement really addresses this situation. If you think the Scout is too young, you can discuss your concerns with him. But it does clearly state that the decision to proceed belongs to the Scout.

Note that the Guide to Advancement is updated annually, so when looking something up, check that you are using the current version first.

Scouters, how do you approach this? Add your ideas to the comments below.

6 Responses to Age Requirements for Merit Badges

  1. Sue Z. February 26, 2014 at 2:47 PM #

    7th grade is not too young to begin working on Citizen in the Community. My son is in 7th grade and he is working on the merit badge right now. 7th grade is a great age for the community service component as the boy is mature enough to be a real help to the organization.

  2. Marie July 27, 2016 at 7:33 AM #

    My Scout was a 5th grader when he completed his C in the Community. Common Core curriculum had that he learned 99% of the badge requirements from his teacher, who signed off as his counselor. Maturity level has a lot to do with it as well. He did a great job for his community service requirement.

  3. Delmar January 9, 2018 at 7:56 AM #

    I believe only BSA approved counselors can sign off on Merit Badge requirements.

  4. ADC April 4, 2018 at 3:42 PM #

    I know this is a couple years late, but as a Commissioner who helps units succeed, I feel I have to add into this.

    BSA policy states it is up to the scout to initiate it, even if leaders do not approve they have no say that they cannot do it, they may advise but the scout can work on it. There is no age restrictions at all.

  5. ADC September 24, 2018 at 5:49 PM #

    Unless the rank states a specific age or prerequisite, no one can deny a scout to work on a badge. The comment from the guide to scouting about addressing concerns by a scoutmaster is fair, but they cannot deny the scout from moving forward with it.

  6. Tony Morev April 1, 2019 at 11:02 PM #

    I have a 5th grader superachiever who’s pumped up about scouting and got half way to first class in just a couple of months. He wants to work on Personal Fitness. He is a competitive swimmer. The charter org rep who happens to be the troop counselor for PF and heads the Board of Reviews told him during the board of review not to bother because she will not let him complete it, as he’s too young to comphehend the contents of it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: